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    Why Apple Dropped the ‘i’

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    Amit Srivatsa
    Amit Srivatsa Jan 26, 2016

    A lot has changed at Apple since Steve Jobs’ death. They have launched a watch, a TV streaming device, and an online music library. They even have plans to launch a car.

    But did you notice that none of them had the “i” branding?! In place of iWatch, iTV, or iMusic we have Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Apple Music.

    This is a trend that’s becoming obvious with each new product launch at Apple. They are consciously moving away from calling their products “iProducts”, preferring to call them “Apple Products” instead.

    What’s the reason behind this?

    The reasoning is simple — to stop the brand from getting diluted. How many times have you come across a product prefixed with an “i” that turned out to be a cheap knockoff of an original Apple device? Many, many times, right? Well, Apple is taking care of that problem now.

    But there are trademarks, right?

    Yes, Apple does have trademarks, but there’s a catch – it can only get a name registered, not a nomenclature.

    Basically, Apple can get trademarks for each name like “iPhone” or “iPod”, but it cannot say that all things prefixed with an “i” will belong to them. So you are free to go ahead and register “iPan” or “iPot” and if, some years later, Apple decides to get into kitchen utensils, you’re going to be a very rich man!

    In fact, something like this has already happened.

    The iPad was the last product to launch with “i” branding in 2010. Now, “iPAD” was already an existing trademark in China. It was registered to a small Chinese company named Proview. Of course they ripped it off the iconic iMac, but still, they had rights to the name.

    Interestingly, since the trademark was registered only for China, Apple was free to use it elsewhere. But when they tried to launch the iPad in China, Proview stirred up some trouble. Apple had to do a settlement with Proview for $60 million in 2012 – a lifesaver for the company, since it was almost on the verge of bankruptcy.

    Apple is in no mood to repeat that experience, and rightly so. There are two main advantages of moving away from the “i” branding to the “Apple” branding:

    – “Apple” cannot be copied

    As explained earlier, you can pick up any noun, put an “i” in front of it, and register the name. However, you can’t do the same thing with “Apple”. Because Apple is a registered brand name, you cannot use to name your products.

    So you can have an iBag, but not an Apple Bag.

    – Emphasizes the parent brand

    All major companies across all industries add their name before their product Bajaj Avenger, Ford Endeavour, and Google Chromebook directly draw focus to the parent brand.

    In fact, Google did the switch years back. Remember their products originally came with the “G” branding? Gmail! Gtalk! But not anymore. Think Google Phone, Google Chromebook.

    What about those products which already have an “i”?

    The most prominent “i” brand products are definitely the iPhone, the iPad and the iPod. While Apple is no longer using the “i” as a prefix, it’s not likely to change the names of these classics.

    Think about it: Apple Phone? Apple Pad? Apple Pod? The last one was downright weird. Besides, these are highly established products. Their names are so engraved in our minds that it would be almost blasphemous to think about changing them.

    So the classics will remain untouched, as they should be. For all other future Apple products, however, the “i” has died. RIP.

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